Because of the intricate design of your dog’s ears, they are prone to developing infections. When your furry friend is feeling under the weather, it can send you into a state of panic. Knowing what causes ear infections, what the symptoms are, and how to treat them will help you remain in control. With this guide, you can assure your pooch’s ear health is protected at all times.
Dog Ear Infections are Common
While some dog breeds are more susceptible to ear infections than others, any dog can suffer from this painful condition. Most dogs will develop an ear infection at least once in their lives, so it is important that dog owners are aware of the symptoms to look for so they can act quickly. Dog ear infections are treated easily when found early.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection
While rare, some dogs exhibit no signs of ear infection, but for most, painful symptoms develop. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, it is important to take him to the vet right away. Waiting to seek treatment could cause the infection to worsen or spread.
- Dark, waxy discharge coming from the ears
- Odors coming from the ears
- Redness and swelling in the ear canal
- Hot ear flaps
- Crusting and scabbing in the ear
- Persistent scratching of the affected ear
- Head shaking
If your dog has developed an ear infection, he is likely going to whine with pain. He may not like his ears touched and may not eat or drink as much as normal.
Types of Ear Infections
Three main types of dog ear infections occur. Otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna each cause some of the same symptoms, so it is important to seek the vet for treatment.
Otitis externa in dogs is an infection that affects the cells that line the ear canal. This is the most common type of ear infection in dogs. These infections can be quite painful and can sometimes prevent a dog from hearing normally.
Inflammation of the structures of the middle ear is called otitis media. This is a more serious form of ear infection and is sometimes caused by the spread of otitis externa infection to the middle ear. While rare, this form of infection can reach the bloodstream, which is why it is so imperative you seek medical attention for your dog.
When the inner ear of a dog becomes infected, this is called otitis interna. Dogs with otitis interna may experience vertigo, where they become dizzy and cannot walk normally. They can also develop deafness that can become permanent if the ear infection is not treated promptly.
How Are Dog Ear Infections Diagnosed?
When you take your dog to the vet with a suspected ear infection, the doctor will first talk with you about the symptoms. Be ready to inform the vet of any symptoms you have noticed and when they first appeared.
The vet will use a special scope to look inside the structures of your dog’s ears. If the ear infection is causing severe pain and the dog is not cooperating, anesthesia may be used to allow the doctor to look carefully inside the ear.
The vet will also swab your dog’s ear, so its contents can be viewed under a microscope. The doctor will be looking for signs of ear mites, yeast, or bacteria.
In addition to the above, the vet may also use bloodwork and neurological testing, among other diagnostic tools. After the diagnosis, your vet will prescribe the proper medication and instruct you on how to administer it correctly.
How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated?
Ear infections in dogs, no matter the type, will require a deep cleaning carried out by the vet. This cleaning removes any crusting, excess wax, and discharge that may be present. Often, medicated ear washes are used.
Depending on the type of infection, your dog may receive prescription ear drops, oral antibiotics, and steroids. It is important to ask your vet any questions you may have about the care of your dog’s ears. Following the medication instructions is essential.
How to Administer Dog Ear Medication
Most dog ear infections are treated with ear drops. Some dogs tolerate ear drop administration. Other dogs may not like the intrusion into this sensitive area. If your dog needs ear drops, follow these steps for administering them.
- Get a partner to help you with the ear drops.
- Gently pull your dog’s ear flap straight up and slightly towards the back.
- While continuing to hold the ear flap in place, apply the dose of ear drops to your dog’s ear canal.
- Keep your dog’s ear flap in place to allow the drops to run down into the canal.
- Close the ear flap and gently massage the ear with two fingers. Remember, your dog’s ears are likely painful, so please be extra cautious and gentle.
- Move away from your dog’s ear and expect him to shake his head.
Some ear drops contain ingredients that are meant to dissolve excess wax. You may notice your dog’s ears release debris when he is shaking his head. This is a good thing!
If your dog was prescribed more than one kind of ear drop, wait at least five minutes before applying the second medication, following the steps above. Apply the drops in the order recommended by your vet.
It is important to note that vet visits and prescriptions can be expensive. Many dog owners find it helpful to purchase today’s best dog insurance for their furry friends.
What Can You Expect From Your Dog’s Ear Infection Recovery?
Your dog will likely begin to feel much better within a couple of days. Even if your dog seems better, it is important to finish the full course of treatment .
Most dog ear infections are cleared within one to two weeks as long as there are no complications. Dogs with chronic ear infections sometimes need surgery.
What Causes Dog Ear Infections?
Multiple issues can cause a dog to develop an ear infection. The following are some of the reasons your dog may have developed an infection in one or both ears.
- Excess moisture
- Disorders of the endocrine system
- Autoimmune disorders
- Excessive wax buildup
- Foreign bodies in the ear canal
- Injuries to the ear canal
- Excessive ear cleaning
Some dog breeds are more likely to develop ear infections than others. Dogs with hairy or floppy ears are at a greater risk of developing ear infections. Cocker spaniels, poodles, and Old English sheepdogs need to be monitored carefully.
Is It Possible to Prevent Dog Ear Infections?
Once you have seen your dog suffer from an ear infection, you vow to never let one happen again. Although it is not possible to prevent ear infections entirely, dog owners can greatly reduce the risks.
Keep Your Dog’s Ears Dry
Excess moisture in the ear is one of the most common reasons for dogs developing ear infections. Keeping your dog’s ears dry is essential.
If you take your dog swimming frequently, make sure to dry his ears thoroughly after each swim. It is also important to dry your dog’s ears after a bath.
To ensure your dog does not get loose and jump in the pool without you knowing, make sure to install the best invisible dog fence.
Has your dog been getting chronic ear infections? When chronic ear infections occur, the cause is often dog allergies.
Talking to the vet about your dog’s allergy symptoms is important. With treatment and lifestyle changes, congestion will be kept to a minimum and should help clear up your dog’s ear infections.
Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean
Cleaning your dog’s ears is an essential part of his care and can prevent ear infections from developing. Follow these steps to make sure your dog’s ears are cleaned properly.
- Fill the ear canal with a dog ear cleaner.
- Massage your dog’s vertical ear canal from the outside of the ear.
- Use soft gauze to wipe your dog’s ear out gently.
You should avoid using paper towels, washcloths, T-shirts, or cotton balls because these can all leave behind fibrous residue that could cause ear irritation.
Dog owners should never use cotton swabs in the ear canal, though they can be used to clean the external ear flaps. Using a cotton swab in the ear canal can push wax and debris deep into the canal and could cause damage or infections.
You should clean your dog’s ears once a month unless directed otherwise by your vet. Clean ears help to prevent bacterial growth and yeast.
What Happens If My Dog Gets a Yeast Infection in the Ears?
Yeast infections can occur almost as frequently as bacterial infections and can mimic some of the same symptoms. If you notice the following symptoms, it is possible your dog has an ear yeast infection.
- Scratching or pawing at the ears
- Reddish or brown waxy buildup
- Cheesy or musty smells coming from the ears
- Redness or irritation in the ears
Just like with other ear infections, a yeast infection is best diagnosed and treated by a vet. Your vet can culture discharge from your dog’s ears and confirm it is yeast, so the right treatment can be administered.
FAQ About Dog Ear Infection
Discovering your faithful friend has an ear infection can be scary. You may worry about your dog’s health and have a lot of questions. The following are some of the top questions regarding dog ear infections.
1. Will dog ear infections go away on their own?
Dog ear infections rarely go away on their own and can actually worsen in severity if left untreated. If you wait too long to seek the vet, your dog’s ear infection may become much more difficult to treat. Untreated ear infections can also lead to hearing loss, chronic sinus infections, and a possible need for surgery. Taking your dog to the vet will bring quick relief from any infection.
2. What does a dog ear infection look like?
When a dog’s ears are infected, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between infection, mites, or other issues. Dog ears that are infected will often be inflamed, feel warm to the touch, and irritated. A dog’s ears may also appear crusty or have an excessive amount of waxy buildup. If you notice these signs, your dog needs to see the vet right away.
3. Should I take my dog to the vet for an ear infection?
You should always take your dog to the vet for an ear infection, even if you have treated one before, and know the symptoms. Ear infections can come from different sources and bacteria. Your vet needs to examine and culture your dog’s ears to give the right medication.
4. How do I clean my dog’s ear infection?
Your vet may prescribe a medicated rinse to keep your dog’s ears clean while they are being treated for infection. Make sure to follow your vet’s instructions. Never pour water into your dog’s ear canals to get them clean.
Treat Your Dog’s Ear Infection Right Away
As soon as you notice signs of an ear infection in your dog, take him to the vet right away. Prompt treatment will help to prevent chronic issues from arising. Your dog will thank you for taking care of his painful condition.